When I was diagnosed with moderate obstructive sleep apnea last year, one of my first concerns was whether I could still get affordable life insurance to protect my family. Sleep apnea is a common condition affecting over 22 million Americans, and I quickly learned it can make getting coverage more tricky.
After months of research and working with my insurance agent, I successfully obtained a policy with a top-rated carrier at a reasonable rate. Here’s what I learned along the way that can help others navigating life insurance with sleep apnea.
Insurers classify sleep apnea as a higher risk health condition. Here's what that typically means for your application:
You'll likely be rated in a higher premium class, increasing your rate. The more severe the apnea, the higher the rating.
You may need to provide detailed medical records, sleep studies, and doctor's statements.
You'll need to undergo a medical exam and potentially other medical tests.
You may be limited in the types and lengths of policies offered.
Very severe apnea cases could lead to declination with some insurers.
So while sleep apnea makes getting a competitive rate tougher, coverage is absolutely still possible in most cases.
If you have sleep apnea, here are some things you can do to potentially get a better rate:
Treat it aggressively with CPAP therapy and oral devices. Show insurers you're committed to managing your condition.
Get a follow-up sleep study showing your treatment is working well.
Reach and maintain a healthy body weight.
Exercise regularly and eat a nutritious diet.
Limit alcohol consumption which can worsen apnea.
Reduce stress levels through relaxation techniques.
Taking these steps shows insurers you’re an engaged, lower-risk applicant despite your diagnosis.
I highly recommend partnering with an independent insurance agent when applying with sleep apnea. An independent agent acts as your personal advocate by:
Helping you obtain and summarize medical records to present your situation positively.
Identifying carriers known to be apnea-friendly. Underwriting varies.
Submitting your application to multiple companies to get you the best rate.
Handling any follow-up requirements seamlessly.
Negotiating offers and discounts on your behalf.
An experienced independent agent levels the playing field and handles so many pain points. Their expertise is invaluable.
Here are some common insurance products to explore:
Term life - Offers the most coverage for the lowest cost but requires full underwriting. Ideal if you have mild to moderate apnea.
Guaranteed issue - Requires limited health questions but has low benefit maximums. A fallback option if declined elsewhere.
Simplified issue - Streamlined underwriting and moderate coverage amounts make this a middle ground option.
I ultimately went with a 20-year term life policy because I'm otherwise healthy. But guaranteed and simplified issue products can provide an option if your apnea is classified as high-risk.
I want to briefly share my personal sleep apnea insurance journey to provide some real-world insight.
After my diagnosis, my agent Julie helped me assemble my medical records showing I had mild apnea and was fully compliant with CPAP treatment. This controlled my condition well per my follow-up sleep study.
Julie submitted my application to three term life insurance companies. The first carrier declined me, likely because they were more conservative with sleep apnea cases. But the second insurer approved me at a Standard rate class, and the third offered an even better Preferred rate. By casting a wide net, I ended up with a top company at a competitive rate I was happy with.
The process was tedious at times, but Julie made it as smooth as possible. Having a knowledgeable guide allowed me to secure coverage I couldn’t have navigated alone.
The main point I want readers to take away is that getting life insurance with sleep apnea IS very achievable. Yes it's more difficult than applying as a perfectly healthy individual. You'll likely pay higher premiums depending on your severity. But with an expert agent's help, you can present your situation positively and demonstrate that your apnea is well-managed.
If you've been diagnosed with sleep apnea, don't assume you can't get covered. With some effort and the right support, you can still get the life insurance protection you need. Where there’s a will, there’s a way – I’m living proof!